As a new mother, you have probably heard about the benefits of breastfeeding and may feel overwhelmed by the choice between breast milk and formula. However, it’s important to know that there is another option—combination feeding, which involves supplementing breast milk with formula.
Whether you’re looking to supplement breast milk with formula or introduce bottle feeding alongside breastfeeding, finding the right balance can provide convenience and meet your baby’s needs. Read on to explore why you should combine breast and bottle feeding, and for guidance on introducing the first bottle to your baby, empowering you to navigate the world of combination feeding with confidence.
Why combine breast and bottle feeding?
Combining breast and bottle feeding is a choice you might consider for various reasons, such as;
- Wanting to supplement breastfeeding with expressed breast milk (expressed breast milk refers to manually extracted breast milk that is stored for future feeding)
- Incorporating formula feeds alongside breastfeeding
- Transitioning from bottle feeding to breastfeeding
- Ensuring your baby has milk while you’re temporarily away.
It’s important to note that introducing formula feeds can impact your milk production and there is evidence suggesting that babies may not breastfeed as effectively due to the different sucking action required at the bottle compared to the breast. So, it’s essential to consider these factors and make informed decisions based on your individual circumstances.
Introducing formula feeds
When incorporating both breastfeeding and formula feeds, you and your baby can continue to experience the advantages of breastfeeding. If you decide to introduce infant formula, consider the following:
- It is recommended to introduce baby formula gradually, allowing your body to adjust milk production and reducing the likelihood of uncomfortable breasts, swelling, or mastitis.
- If you are planning to return to work, it is advisable to initiate the transition a few weeks beforehand, providing ample time for both you and your baby to adapt.
- If your baby is 6 months or older and capable of drinking milk from a cup, introducing a bottle may not be necessary.
Introducing Bottle Feeds to Your Little One
When introducing your breastfed baby to bottle feeding, it is important to be aware that they may need some time to adjust.
Consider the following tips:
- It is often beneficial to offer the first few bottles when your baby is content and relaxed, rather than when they are excessively hungry.
- Having someone else give the initial bottle feeds can be helpful, as it prevents your baby from being near you and detecting the scent of your breast milk.
- Exploring different positions for bottle feeding and breastfeeding can also be worth trying.
Transitioning to More Breastfeeding and Fewer Bottles
If you’re looking to increase breastfeeding sessions and reduce the reliance on bottles for your baby, seeking support from your midwife, health visitor, or breastfeeding supporter can be beneficial. Additionally, consider the following tips:
- Hold and cuddle your baby as much as possible, skin-to-skin contact promotes milk production and encourages feeding.
- Regularly express your breast milk to stimulate lactation. Aim for around 8 sessions per day, including one during the night.
- Explore bottle feeding while keeping your baby close to your breasts, maintaining skin-to-skin contact.
- Pay attention to proper latching techniques and feed your baby frequently, even if the feeding sessions are initially shorter.
- Choose calm, alert moments for breastfeeding and avoid forcing your baby to stay at the breast.
- Gradually reduce the number of bottles as your milk supply increases.
- Consider the use of a lactation aid, such as a supplementer, which involves attaching a small tube next to your nipple. This helps your baby adjust to breastfeeding while receiving milk from both the breast and the tube.
Combining breast milk and formula through combination feeding offers a flexible solution for modern mothers to meet their baby’s needs. When introducing formula, a gradual transition helps the body adjust and supports the emotional bond between mother and baby. By embracing the benefits of combination feeding, making informed decisions, and seeking support when needed, mothers can create a feeding routine that honours their individual circumstances and provides the best possible nourishment for their precious little ones.